Sunday, June 27, 2010

Three for three.

Frank Rich joins in the (successful, I'd say) effort to make the Times' Op-Ed Page a "must read" today. In this column about the firing of General McChrystal, he mentions something I wanted to write about earlier this week and never got to...
Politico theorized that Hastings had pulled off his impertinent coup because he was a freelance journalist rather than a beat reporter, and so could risk “burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.” 

That sentence was edited out of the article — in a routine updating, said Politico — after the blogger Andrew Sullivan highlighted it as a devastating indictment of a Washington media elite too cozy with and protective of its sources to report the unvarnished news. In any event, Politico had the big picture right. It’s the Hastings-esque outsiders with no fear of burning bridges who have often uncovered the epochal stories missed by those with high-level access. Woodward and Bernstein were young local reporters, nowhere near the White House beat, when they cracked Watergate. Seymour Hersh was a freelancer when he broke My Lai. It was uncelebrated reporters in Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau, not journalistic stars courted by Scooter and Wolfowitz, who mined low-level agency hands to challenge the “slam-dunk” W.M.D. intelligence in the run-up to Iraq.
The fatuousness of the Washington Press corps becomes more evident and magnified every day. Did anybody see the White House press conference during which media superstar David Gregory was baffled--baffled, I say--by the concept of the White House wanting to have safeguard to insure that BP was going to do what it promised to do? "But, but...," he sputtered, "you're partners."

Which, of course (and tragically), is how the press sees itself vis-a-vis our political class. We're all pals here, no need to call anybody to account...

God forbid.

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